We have all been warned about the negative affects of smoking on our health by our physicians, as well as various media outlets. We all make our own life choices, some of which are healthier than others. However, putting aside the negative affects smoking can have on our health, there are several reasons smoking could have a negative effect on a claim for Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSI).
First, if you are a smoker, your medical records are no doubt filled with advice from your doctor to quit. Failure to do so can, in general, be considered noncompliance with a doctor’s orders. Noncompliance is typically harmful to a claim for Social Security Disability.
If your claim for disability includes a respiratory condition such as COPD, smoking is aggravating the condition. The judge is unlikely to consider a condition disabling when your actions are causing a worsening of your condition. This can also be said for many types of chronic arthritic or orthopedic pain, cardiovascular disease, and other medical conditions. You may already be aware of the effects of smoking on your condition based on your discussion with your doctor. However, if quitting can make your condition better and you fail to do so, the judge can interpret this as a lack of desire to improve your disabling condition.
I have, on countless occasions, encountered Social Security Disability clients who are unable to pursue a particular treatment, such as physical therapy, for financial reasons, such as an inability to make copayments. Given the dire financial situation of many disabled individuals who are unable to work, this explanation may seem reasonable. However, smoking is an expensive habit. If an individual is spending money on cigarettes rather than recommended medical treatment, the judge can interpret this action as either a lack of desire to get better, or that the individual is not as disabled as they represent. Either way, this can be harmful to a claim for disability benefits.
My intention is certainly not to provide you with medical advice. No doubt your physician has done that. However, if you have filed or are considering filing for Social Security Disability, you smoke, and you have considered quitting, you now have additional incentive to do so.
For advice and legal counseling more specific to your Social Security Disability case, contact the experienced and caring attorneys at Tanis Schultz. We can answer your questions and guide you through the Social Security Disability process.